Bonusly: the wisdom of the crowd to reward coworker success

Bonusly is an employee recognition platform that uses peer-to-peer bonuses as the mechanism for rewards. The idea is that employees get a budget each month that they can reward to each other for contributions to the work place.

entreDonovan's Market Street storefront.

(Photo by Melissa DiPento)

Bonusly has been going for two years now, with a public beta that’s one year old. It’s earning enough revenue to cover all of its expenses besides the salaries of its two cofounders (one of whom works on the project part time, for now), who have bootstrapped the company to this point. Now, they are ready to explore a seed round.

Bonusly is an employee recognition platform that uses peer-to-peer bonuses as the mechanism for rewards. See the video about it below.

The idea is that employees get a budget each month that they can reward to each other for contributions to the work place. Raphael Crawford-Marks, one of the two cofounders, who, argued that managing employee bonuses this way empowers employees to recognize each other, takes advantage of workers’ understanding of who is really making the team work and enhances workplace culture by incentivizing mutual recognition. We spoke with him at his workplace inside the Gowanus coworking space, Brooklyn Creative League.

If an employee doesn’t “spend” his or her allocation of bonuses in a given month, they disappear, so everyone is better off when everyone spreads the wealth around. Crawford-Marks says that 60-80 percent of bonuses get distributed in a given month, across its companies and 80 percent of users login to the system. They are working now to make that easier by integrating the system with other familiar enterprise employee platforms, such as Honey, Yammer, Slack and Workday.

The idea originated in the experiences of Crawford-Marks’s cofounder, John Quinn. He was put in charge of an employee recognition program for a very large team and nothing felt good about the work. In a classic sense, he thought there had to be a better way. From a management perspective, the system also gives managers new insights on their team. For example, who employees see as the most collaborative, most innovative, best salesperson and etc.

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The team understands the challenges of seeking venture funds, but believe they are onto an idea that could have the sort of growth VCs look for. “Employee recognition is a very large market. It’s $20 billion domestically,” Crawford-Marks said. Numbers internationally have been harder to find.

The biggest company in their portfolio now is Gilt, Crawford-Marks said, but they have several others listed on their case studies page, such as Oracle, Venda and Just Auto.

Bonusly is free for the first 50 users. It’s $1 per month per user for larger teams. Crawford-Marks said they know pricing is something they are going to have to experiment with, like Honey has.  Crawford-Marks lives in Carroll Gardens and Quinn in Park Slope. They are the entire team for now.

 

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